MSI K8N Diamond
- Built-in Creative SoundBlaster Live!, wide array of connectivity options, good performance, good board monitor software
- SLI functionality must be manually installed
All things considered, this board impressed us with its features, especially its on-board Creative audio, but we did have to fiddle with different drivers in order to get the RAID array detected properly by Windows.
Price$ 399.00 (AUD)
One of the distinguishing features on this nForce4 SLI-based board is its built in Creative SoundBlaster Live! audio chip, which provides audio capabilities that easily outstrip the majority of motherboards. It supports up to 7.1 speakers and has analog as well as digital ports on its rear port cluster.
Two Gigabit Ethernet ports, a FireWire port along with USB 2.0, Serial, PS/2 and parallel ports also adorn the rear port cluster. MSI supplies expansion brackets for further USB 2.0 and FireWire ports, as well one for an external SATA port.
The board has RAID support through its four integrated SATA ports and MSI also adds a further two ports using a Silicon Image controller. We had a bit of difficulty locating the correct RAID drivers for our Windows XP installation, as the package we received for this review did not include retail driver discs, and the drivers that worked were the ones directly off Nvidia's Web site.
The board performed similarly to others nForce4 boards, with no anomalies. It's worth pointing out that MSI uses a VIA-based FireWire controller, whereas the other vendors rely on Texas Instrument controllers.
MSI provides some great utilities to allow you to monitor your system. DigiCell software allows you to view information, such as fan speeds and chip temperatures through Windows.
Physically, the board has all its ports and slots located in a logical manner, although there was one capacitor near the release lever of the first graphics slot. To enable SLI, the board requires that a selector board be physically manipulated.
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GGG Evaluation Team
First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.